A round-up of the day’s news from South Africa.
LONMIN REPORTS A RETURN TO PROFIT
Platinum miner Lonmin has returned to an annual profit after losses resulting from fatal strikes in 2012 and says it hopes wage talks, though “tough”, would avoid disruption this year. Lonmin, the world’s third-largest primary platinum producer, said its production, sales of platinum and efforts to contain cost increases exceeded its own targets, helping pre-tax profit beat analysts’ forecasts. The London-listed company forecast sales would increase almost 8% or more next year, with cost inflation – a major problem for platinum miners struggling with lacklustre prices – kept below increases in South African wages. Lonmin’s newly appointed chief executive, Zimbabwean former Anglo American executive Ben Magara, declined to comment on the details of wage talks, but said he believed strikes could be prevented.
MADONSELA: SECURITY CLUSTER REQUEST UNLAWFUL, UNCONSTITUTIONAL
Public protector Thuli Madonsela says giving the security cluster more time to study her provisional report into state spending on President Jacob Zuma’s private home in Nkandla “would be an injustice on the affected and implicated parties”. In a statement responding to criticism by the ministers concerned, Madonsela said it would not be in the public interest if the security cluster had exclusive possession of the report. “These concerns were expressed to the Minister, who offered no solutions to them,” Madonsela said. The public protector said she would “clarify in detail in court papers” why she believes the security cluster’s request is “unlawful, unconstitutional and violates the independence of her office”.
ANC INVOKES FIRES OF HELL AND GHOSTS OF APARTHEID – AND PRESS OMBUD
The Democratic Alliance says the ANC under President Jacob Zuma is resorting more and more to “to tired racial insinuations and the supernatural to convince supporters to stick with them”. DA Gauteng premier candidate, Mmusi Maimane, was responding to reports that ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa told voters to vote ANC or see the return of the “boers”. “First it was the fires of hell. Now it is the ghosts of the apartheid regime that are being invoked to scare voters into staying with a party that deserted them a long time ago,” Maimane said. The ANC said it had reported City Press, who reported the Ramaphosa story, to the press ombudsman, as the story was a “fabrication” of “sensationalist concoctions and lies
PUT SOUTH AFRICAN FARMERS, COMMUNITIES FIRST
President Jacob Zuma’s promise to give Namibia a R100 million package to relieve the effects of a drought, while commendable, should not come before helping farming communities in South Africa, the DA says. Agriculture spokesman Annette Steyn said farmers and communities in South Africa had been waiting for years for drought and flood relief. Steyn said agriculture minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson should “prioritise drought relief stricken areas with the same sense of immediacy ANC secretary Gwede Mantashe received earlier this year after a fire broke out in areas surrounding his farm”. Steyn said the Langkloof community has been waiting since 2006 for assistance while others in the North West, Mpumalanga and Limpopo are also still waiting for relief after floods that occurred between December 2010 and February 2011.
DAVIES URGES SA TO STOP BUYING PIRATED GOODS
Piracy perpetuates poverty, says trade and industry minister, Rob Davies. He said the South African Revenue Service conducted over 25 000 seizures and confiscated illegal goods valued at R2.6 billion over the past year and that South Africa had become a “top dumping destination” due to demand created by local consumers. Davies said customs operation made around 26 busts a day at ports of entry across the country. They netted illicit cigarettes worth R37.8 million, counterfeit clothing worth R155 million and counterfeit CDs and DVDs worth R671 million. But, said Davies, “the success of our enforcement agencies is undermined by the continued demand for illegal products by consumers”. He said it was important to unite behind efforts to fight piracy and illegal imports in order to prevent job losses, stimulate job creation and ultimately fuel economic growth.
MUGABE CALLS HALT ON EXPORTING RAW PLATINUM TO SA
Zimbabwe may halt exports of raw platinum to South Africa to force mining companies to build a refinery in the country as a two-year deadline has expired, state media quoted President Robert Mugabe as saying. The threat, if carried out, could affect the world’s two largest platinum producers, Anglo American Platinum and Impala Platinum Holdings, both of which have operations in Zimbabwe. The country has the world’s second largest known platinum reserves but mining companies send the raw product to South Africa for processing. “Let us close our doors immediately and say no raw platinum will go to South Africa. The former minister gave them two years and we must see them now arranging to build a refinery,” the state-run Herald newspaper quoted Mugabe as saying.
FARMWORKERS ARRESTED FOR PUBLIC VIOLENCE AFTER BURNING TRUCK
Western Cape police have arrested 12 people on charges of public violence and malicious damage to property after farmworkers set a truck alight in Wellington, Sapa reported. Captain Frederick van Wyk said about 120 workers at Sandrivier estate prevented other workers from entering the premises and burned the vehicle and a piece of field on the farm. Van Wyk said police were deployed to prevent more damage and the workers were escorted to an open field. Portia Adams, spokeswoman for Agri Wes-Cape, said the culprits were seasonal workers who took part in an unprotected strike on farms belonging to the JC Le Roux group.
NO BAIL FOR EAST RAND DOG FIGHTING RING
A magistrate at the Tsakane Magistrate’s Court has denied bail to 13 people accused of being involved in illegal dog fighting on the East Rand. “The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) applauds the decision,” senior inspector Jaco Pieterse told Sapa. Eighteen people were originally arrested during the raid in Tsakane where 14 pit bulls were rescued. “We are saddened that eight of the remaining dogs removed during the NSPCA dog fighting bust last week Sunday had to be euthanised by a veterinarian due to the seriousness and extent of their injuries and suffering,” said Pieters. DM
Photo: Mmusi Maimane (Daily Maverick)
"A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right and raises at first a formidable outcry in defence of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason." ~ Thomas Paine